Category: Papers

Towards a quantitative model of epidemics during conflicts 

Epidemics may both contribute to and arise as a result of conflict. The effects of conflict on infectious diseases are complex and there have been confounding observations of both increase and decrease in disease outbreaks during and after conflicts. However there is no unified mathematical model that explains all these counter-intuitive observations. There is an urgent need for a quantitative framework for modelling conflicts and epidemics. We introduce a set of mathematical models to understand the role of conflicts in epidemics. Our mathematical framework has the potential to explain the counterintuitive observations and the complex role of human conflicts in epidemics. Our work suggests that aid and peacekeeping organizations should take an integrated approach that combines public health measures, socio-economic development, and peacekeeping in the conflict zone. Our approach exemplifies the role of non-linear thinking in complex systems like human societies. We view our work as a step towards a quantitative model of disease spread in conflicts.


Banerjee S. 2019. Towards a quantitative model of epidemics during conflicts. PeerJ Preprints 7:e27651v1


How Efficiency Shapes Human Language

We review recent research on the burgeoning topic of how language structure is shaped by principles of efficiency for communication and learning.
Work in this area has infused long-standing ideas in linguistics and psychology with new precision and methodological rigor by bringing together information theory, newly available datasets, controlled experimentation, and computational modeling.
We review a number of studies that focus on phenomena ranging from the lexicon through syntactic processes, and which deploy formal tools from information theory and probability theory to understand how and why language works the way that it does.
These studies show how a pervasive pressure for efficient usage guides the form of natural language and suggest a rich future for language research in connecting linguistics to cognitive psychology and mathematical theories of communication.


How Efficiency Shapes Human Language

Edward Gibson, et al.

Trends in Cognitive Science


Topical Alignment in Online Social Systems

Understanding the dynamics of social interactions is crucial to comprehend human behavior. The emergence of online social media has enabled access to data regarding people relationships at a large scale. Twitter, specifically, is an information oriented network, with users sharing and consuming information. In this work, we study whether users tend to be in contact with people interested in similar topics, i.e., if they are topically aligned. To do so, we propose an approach based on the use of hashtags to extract information topics from Twitter messages and model users’ interests. Our results show that, on average, users are connected with other users similar to them. Furthermore, we show that topical alignment provides interesting information that can eventually allow inferring users’ connectivity. Our work, besides providing a way to assess the topical similarity of users, quantifies topical alignment among individuals, contributing to a better understanding of how complex social systems are structured.


Topical Alignment in Online Social Systems

Felipe Maciel Cardoso, Sandro Meloni, André Santanchè, and Yamir Moreno

Front. Phys., 17 April 2019 |


Information as a construction

The purpose of this review paper is to outline the constructivist approach to the notion of information from two perspectives. The first perspective explores the role of ‘constructed’ information in the ‘constructivist niche’ – a common name for the appropriate viewpoints in different science fields, such as cognitive and neuroscience, psychology, cybernetics and biology of cognition. The second perspective considers library and information science (LIS) papers in which information is treated as a constructed entity. This paper assumed the origin of the notion of information to be a construction as defined in the ‘constructivist niche’ that is based upon communication theory and cybernetics. Conversely, the origin of the notion of information as a construction as per LIS can be found in Bateson’s definition of information as a ‘difference which makes the difference,‘ as well as in the 1970s LIS definition wherein information is associated with the direction of a cognitive viewpoint, as in a ‘cognitive turn’. The study showed that ‘information as a construction‘, except in a few cases, did not play a significant role in the constructivist theories nor in LIS. LIS researchers reduce the concept of information to a subjective, socially-constructed entity which inherently results in different interpretations.


Information as a construction
Boris Bosancic, Marta Matijevic

Journal of Librarianship and Information Science


Mind, Body, Quantum Mechanics

I discuss the following: The causal closure of classical physics implies that consciousness in a classical physics brain can at best be epiphenomenal. Quantum mechanics can break the causal closure of classical physics in two ways: measurement and a newly discovered Poised Realm. Conscious experience may be associated with quantum measurement. Here quantum mind has acausal consequences for the classical brain. I propose genetic experiments to test this. Entanglement may solve the “binding problem.” I believe these proposals unite mind and body in a new way and answer Descartes after 350 years of the Stalemate introduced by his dualism of Res cogitans and Res extensa.


Mind, Body, Quantum Mechanics
Stuart Kauffman

Activitas Nervosa Superior